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Fates Worse Than Death: An Autobiographical Collage of the 1980's [Hardcover]

Kurt Vonnegut
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 1991
The American novelist Kurt Vonnegut's second volume of autobiographical writings. They form a memoir of ideas, anecdote and opinion covering such diverse subjects as death in the family, suicidal depression, the future of the planet, Ronald Reagan, Salman Rushdie and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

These 21 essays, combining personal recollections and political reiterations, lack a unifying theme; they are likely to disappoint even Vonnegut fans.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

This is a stimulating if rambling book of essays that discusses everything from the ugliness of the 1988 presidential campaign to male bonding in the stories of Ernest Hemingway. Maybe because Vonnegut has never hung around political speechwriters, he is pessimistic about the future of life on Earth and frankly nostalgic for the days when we were free of the certain knowledge that we would make this planet uninhabitable. Yet on the positive side, he sees in this country a decrease in racism (which he concedes may be only temporary). Some of the ideas here will be familiar to Vonnegut readers, such as the unnecessary bombing of Dresden or the now outrageous fact that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, but all are offered in the hope of improving our chances at survival and often with disarming humor. Moralize, he tells young writers, but be sure to sound reader-friendly, like Cervantes rather than Cotton Mather. Recommended for most collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/91.
- Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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First Sentence
Here we have a sequel, not that anyone has clamored for one, to a book called Palm Sunday (1980), a collection of essays and speeches by me, with breezy autobiographical commentary serving as connective tissue and splints and bandages. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars For Vonnegut Completionists Feb. 18 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
You know how Jehovah's Witnesses are always handing out pamphlets to show you the glory of The Lord? While this is the kind of quick read you can give to your friends to convert them into Kurt Vonnegut readers. God knows we could use some more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book of insight Jan. 3 2003
By A Customer
As a huge fan of Kurt Vonnegut, I enjoyed the insight that Fates Worse Than Death provided. This book gave me a better sense of Kurt Vonnegut the man, not just the writer and gave me a better appreciation of his other novels.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Peek Into Vonnegut's Head July 29 2003
These essays give us a rare look in to the mind of a genius. He expounds on subjects ranging from mental illness, family relationships, death and war. Sounds depressing, but an optimism shows through. Vonnegut masterfully points out the adsurdity around us and shines the light of sanity on it. The essays are as relevant and mind opening today as they were when he wrote them over a decade ago. Although this is not the Veonnegut work I would recommend to someone unfamiliar with his work, anyone will benefit from reading it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hopelessness & creativity May 28 2003
It's always interesting to read an autobiographical report on someone's life. You can get a few insights on what to do and what not to do with your own life. As to hopelessness as an avenue to creativity, this SOMETIMES happens. Hopelessness has many legs and often travels into less exaulted fields than creativity. But what Mr. Vonnegut says is well expressed and can serve as a beacon of hope to the down and outers. As to the literary shock jock style of writing throughout the book, it's a attention grabber and also good for laughs. Though Mr. Vonnegut on page 185 does wisely point out the limits of humor. On paper, he is likeable man who seeks an occasional "peak experience" to make life worthwhile. Or if he doesn't seek it, here and there he finds it anyway.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "De Mess We's In" (Amos and Andy) May 10 2002
By L. Dann
To borrow a verb from Hawthorne, I was "purposed" here. Having eaten the garbage of the day's media reports, I picked up this book for the "cleansing" redux. Some bittersweet sorbet it was- here are some of the things that made me laugh.
Charleton Heston played Jesus with shaved armpits.
To describe our nation, he quotes Amos an' Andy, "De mess we's in"
Re: Thomas Jefferson's owning slaves- "It was as though he had an infected growth on the tip of his nose the size of a walnut and everyone thought that was OK."
When KV's father was dying he apologized for calling him 'Bozo.' Then about five minutes later he called him Bozo again.
Here are things that made my heart stop:
The average age of an American to die in Vietnam was 20. (My own son had just joined- against my wishes- the military, at 20.)
If Western Civilization were a person, we would be directing him to War Preparers Anonymous.
That's the kind of stuff you'll read in essays that are distressing and comforting and hilarious- if you know Vonnegut, you know what I'm saying. Personally, I like a bit more fiction, but as I said, I was purposed here, and I think you may be too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Vonnegut--humorous, engaging and entertaining Sept. 4 2001
I prefer non-fiction works and this one from Vonnegut is very entertaining and presents his views of society and the world. His social commentary is very funny and I highly recommend it. The absolute worst part of this book is that it ends.
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